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But You Don’t Look Disabled

I parked in the one place for the disabled to park the other night and put up my placard. As I got out, a man yelled that I did not look disabled and I had better move my car. I ignored him and walked right into the restaurant. My husband, Jim, well . . . he did not. He’s still angry that someone who doesn’t know me thinks there is no disability.

My Disability Is Now Invisible

Jim’s the one who took care of me through my stroke. He saw me struggle through the agony of my whole right side not working in synch for more than two years. I understand the "one-to-ten" scale of pain when a doctor asked about it. My right shoulder was at a nine (and then down to an eight and finally a seven) for over two years.

I worked with my physical therapist, acupuncturist, and massage therapist to get back to walking "normally" again.

First I worked on the feet. The left side walked normally. The other side had a steppage gait pattern. My right hip flexed more so that I wouldn’t trip because my toes didn’t flex enough. I had to think about the movement day, after day, after day, and I still stumbled some. Finally my feet looked as if they were walking together again.

Next came the right hand. It didn’t swing an inch when I walked. I thought, “Forward. Back. Forward. Back.” I even got it to the place where it has full motion. Eventually, it looked like it swung in rhythm, too. To people on the outside, I looked like I walked normally again.

Shh... It's a Secret

I will tell you a secret. They are not normal. I have right leg cramps so bad that I want to cry. Oh, wait. I do cry sometimes. It’s the worst when I wake up from a sound sleep. I can feel it coming and there is nothing that I can do but bear it out. My right foot cramps every day. My right shoulder is achy.

But . . . I just don’t think about it consciously. There are more important things to do with my life than worry about the little things.

Appreciate What You Have

I appreciate being alive.

I appreciate having a family and friends who love me.

I appreciate having a voice to tell others what it is like to live with a disability . . . on my terms.

Try My Way of Seeing It

I guess that is why I could walk into the restaurant without saying anything. I didn’t want some random guy ruining my meal with the person who cares about me most. My husband.

If you don’t know anything about a person parking in a disabled spot, keep on walking and don’t say anything. If they have a disabled license plate or sticker, then that is good enough for me. Shouldn’t it be good enough for you, too?

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I know what you mean, Sue. It took a while for me to reset the way I think. If I allow them to put me in a bad mood, then I have let someone I don't know hijack the way I think. Instead, I let myself step back from the situation for 90 seconds, which allows me to reset. In my mind, a stranger is not making be upset.


Marcia: This has happened to me as well. The one time that sticks out in my mind is when I parked in a disabled spot in NC with a disabled MD license plate. I got something placed on my windshield that I shouldn't be parking in a disabled spot. I'm like Jim. This is something that drives me crazy. It turned out that NC has disabled placards but no disabled license plates, so the people at the restaurant didn't understand I was disabled. I hope I've learned to dial down my anger, until I understand what the issue truly is from the opposing person's perspective. Sue

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